For additional insight into the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning during the Eastern Conference Final series, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.
Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games over seven seasons in the NHL.
It wasn't just how the New York Rangers won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday, it was who contributed in their 5-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning that has Dave Farrish thinking momentum in the series has potentially taken a significant turn.
The Rangers' big guns, their best player and two of their top scorers, were the stars.
Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves in a vintage performance. Rick Nash played strong, owned the middle of the ice and scored two goals, doubling his production in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in one night. Martin St. Louis scored his first goal of the postseason with a one-timer on the power play that gave New York a 4-1 lead in the third period.
"The players we were talking about finally broke out," Farrish said. "I think it could make a huge difference."
It's up to the Lightning to respond in Game 5 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Farrish is curious to see how they will.
"They're still a very, very dangerous team," Farrish said.
Tampa Bay definitely was for long stretches in Game 4, particularly in the second period, when they outshot the Rangers 19-6 and had a 28-10 advantage in shot attempts.
New York still won the period 2-1 because Lundqvist was excellent, forward Chris Kreider scored on a juicy rebound left by goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Keith Yandle's shot from the right point that looked like it was going way wide hit off of defenseman Victor Hedman's leg in the slot and redirected into the net.
Tampa Bay was outshooting the Rangers 11-1 in the second when Steven Stamkos tied the game with his goal at 11:30. The Rangers got five of the next seven shots on goal and scored twice in a span of 5:34. The Lightning responded by outshooting them 6-0 over the final 2:56 of the period.
Nash and St. Louis scored power play goals in the third to salt it away.
"In all fairness to Tampa, it could have very easily been 3-1 the other way around at the end of the second period," Farrish said. "[Alex] Killorn had a couple great chances on breakaways. [Nikita] Kucherov had a great scoring chance as well. There were a lot of really good chances. Lundqvist really made the difference. He changed the whole complexion of the game so the Rangers could start thinking about the other end of the ice.
"Now Bishop's save percentage has gone down a bit, they got 10 goals on him in two games, and that starts to play with your head if you're on the Tampa side of it. Now the Rangers are going home all even, they've got their big guns going, Henrik is back in a groove and here we go again. It's another momentum swing in the series. We've seen lots of them in this series already."
Farrish said he'll be watching for a response from Bishop and the Lightning's "Triplets" line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Kucherov in Game 5.
Bishop has allowed 10 goals on 52 shots in the past two games. He has been beaten on four of the last five shots he's faced from the Rangers' power play.
He was unlucky in Game 4 considering Nash's first goal went in off of his left skate and Yandle's shot beat him when it looked at first like it had no business doing so. But they were still goals, and they can play with Bishop's head if he lets it happen.
"It'll be interesting to see how his psyche is going into the next game, if he can remain calm and be a factor in the game to battle Henrik for goalie superiority," Farrish said. "You know Henrik is going to come back and do it because he has a history of that and he's been in the game for so long. How Bishop rebounds will be interesting to see. How is he mentally?"
Farrish said he thought Johnson, Palat and Kucherov lost their composure in Game 4 and started getting in the pushing and shoving game instead of beating the Rangers with their dynamic skill.
Johnson got tangled in a battle with Kevin Hayes that seemed to frustrate him. It escalated at 17:37 of the third period, when Johnson and Palat were whistled for matching roughing minors with Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh, and Kucherov was given a 10-minute misconduct.
"They did have some scoring chances, but I thought they got taken out of their game, lost their focus and got frustrated," Farrish said. "Even Stamkos to a certain point got frustrated. That's obviously to the Rangers advantage if they can keep those guys frustrated and thinking about that instead of making great plays. Their response will be just as big as the one from Bishop."